A home wireless network can be set up using wireless local area network (WLAN) devices. A wireless LAN has a wireless interface that enables wireless communication amongst the computers and peripheral devices that are a part of the LAN. A wireless LAN has limited range and is designed to be used only in a local environment such as a building, office complex or home. The main advantage is the flexibility and mobility provided by a wireless LAN.
A wireless home network can be installed easily by connecting a wireless router to the network. The router must be placed in a central location within the home. Computers which are placed close to the router, or in the same room as the router, receive better network speed. Most wireless routers support broadband modems while others support phone line connections. Each computer connected to the wireless LAN must have a wireless LAN card installed.
It is mandatory to name the wireless network and to ensure that all the computers on the WLAN share the same network name. Though a wireless router contains a built in access point, one may have to use a wireless access point if an existing Ethernet home network is extended. The access point must be cabled to the switch, hub or LAN router.
Unlike cellular networks with fixed frequencies, users in WLANs have to share frequencies, which sometimes lead to collisions. The choice of frequency depends on whether microwave, spread spectrum, or infrared communication is being used.
The primary WLAN standards include the IEEE-802.11 series and HiperLAN. The IEEE-802.11 (Wi-Fi) standard supports 1 Mbps data rate and several choices of physical medium such as spread spectrum and infrared. An additional feature of this standard is the battery conservation for inactive or idle wireless users. Faster 54 Mbit/s 802.11a (5 GHz) and 802.11g (2.4 GHz) standards are now available. New standards beyond the 802.11 specifications, such as 802.16(WiMAX), are currently being developed and offer several enhancements such as longer range and faster transfer speeds.
The HiperLAN standard can be used to support 23.5 Mbps channel rates. However, it allows use of only spread spectrum physical medium and is not very popular.